*Great Britain. Borrow’s native country. Born in Norfolk, he grew up the son of a professional soldier from Cornwall and has his first-person narrator, Lavengro, travel constantly throughout England. Lavengro is educated at one army encampment after another. Near the squalid training camp at Norman Cross in Lincolnshire, he first encounters Gypsies, who recognize his unusual qualities and give him his Gypsy name, “Lavengro”—from a Gypsy term for “word-master.” The novel’s subtitle alludes to his three identities: a student of languages, an honorary Gypsy, and an evangelical Protestant.
Wherever military life takes his family, Lavengro learns the local language and customs. In Scotland, he studies under a master of Norse extraction, while his father’s regiment is stationed at Edinburgh Castle. In Ireland, where he visits the Castle of Cashel, he trades a deck of playing cards for language lessons and begins a lifelong fascination with racing horses. In Wales, he is entranced by the ancient culture and astounds adults by learning to speak Welsh as quickly as he learned to ride horseback. By the time he returns to England, he is proficient in all the languages of the British Isles.
*Norfolk. Region in eastern England, along the North Sea, where Lavengro’s family settles after the Napoleonic Wars, There, in East Anglia, Lavengro receives a modest amount of formal...
(The entire section is 522 words.)